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How HTTP / 3 and QUIC speed up your web browser



  A global map with network style connections focused on North America.
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HTTP / 3 is getting bigger. Cloudflare now supports HTTP / 3, which is already part of Chrome Canary and will soon be added to Firefox Nightly. This new standard makes surfing the web faster and safer.

Why HTTP / 3 and QUIC Matter

Here is the brief explanation: web browsers, web servers and other critical pieces of web infrastructure are supported for a new standard called HTTP / 3, which uses QUIC. This is a more modern version of HTTP, which web browsers use to communicate with web servers and send data back and forth.

HTTP / 3 has been rewritten to send data faster with better error resistance. It also has built-in coding. That means more speed and safety. It's not just the speed of data transfer: HTTP / 3 must also reduce latency, which means that websites start loading faster after you click or tap a link.

The average person never needs to know HTTP / 3 and QUIC. People who run websites and develop web software still have some work to do, but it all becomes transparent to the average person. One day your web browser and the websites you use will communicate via HTTP / 3 instead, and the web gets better as more sites choose to use HTTP / 3.

From HTTP / 1
to HTTP / 2 [19659005]   HTTP displayed in the Google Chrome address bar.

The original version of HTTP uses the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). TCP was first described in 1974 and TCP was never designed with the speed and responsiveness of today's web in mind. Google tried to solve many of TCP's problems with a new protocol called SPDY, which informed HTTP / 2.

HTTP / 2 arrived in most major browsers at the end of 2015, with features such as data compression and multiple request pipelining over a single TCP connection to speed things up.

From September 2019, W3Techs estimates that HTTP / 2 is now used by 41% of the websites.

What are HTTP / 3 and QUIC?

HTTP / 3 is more like a rewrite of the HTTP protocol. Instead of using TCP, HTTP / 3 uses the Google QUIC protocol. HTTP / 3 was initially known as HTTP-over-QUIC. HTTP / 3 also includes TLS 1.3 encryption, so no separate HTTPS is required to bind security to the protocol, such as today.

QUIC originally stood for "Fast UDP Internet Connections". This protocol is designed to be faster with lower latency than TCP. QUIC offers less overhead when establishing a connection and faster data transfer via the connection. Unlike TCP, an error such as a piece of data that is lost along the way will not cause the connection to stop and wait until the problem is resolved. QUIC continues to transfer other data while the problem is resolved.

QUIC was even added to Google Chrome in 2013. Chrome uses it for communication with Google services and some other websites such as Facebook, and it is available for Android applications. But QUIC is not standard integrated with other web browsers. With HTTP / 3 the technology also comes to other browsers in a different way.

In summary: HTTP / 3 is a newer, better, faster protocol. It is a more modern solution that should provide improved security and speed on the internet.

They are coming to a web browser near you

HTTP / 3 was added to the ultramodern Canary version of Google Chrome in September 2019. , hidden behind a command line flag . Starting Chrome Canary with the - enable-quic --quic-version = h3-23 command line arguments will enable HTTP / 3.

Mozilla has announced it is adding HTTP / 3 to an experimental version of Firefox Nightly this fall. The new Chromium-based version of Microsoft Edge will inherit the HTTP / 3 work from Google for Chrome, just like other Chromium-based browsers such as Opera. We expect that Apple will one day also jump in Safari with HTTP / 3.

Cloudflare has even announced that it will facilitate the acceptance of HTTP / 3 for sites that use its content delivery network. Cloudflare customers will soon be able to just flip a switch and enable "HTTP / 3 (with QUIC)" for their sites. That should hopefully promote the acceptance of HTTP / 3 by making it easier for websites to enable browsers as soon as browsers get HTTP / 3 stable and enabled for everyone.

HTTP / 3 also comes to other software, for example the Nginx web server is working on HTTP / 3 support for Nginx version 1.17.

We are in the early stages of implementation. Cloudflare says it will "continue to work with other organizations, including Google and Mozilla, to complete the QUIC and HTTP / 3 standards and encourage broad acceptance." In other words, not only is the software not yet final – the standard itself may see some changes. There is a lot of work to do before this is enabled by default in modern browsers and used automatically.

More technical details

Want to know more? View Cloudflare & # 39; s in-depth look at HTTP / 3 or search the draft HTTP / 3 standard for true technical specifications.


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